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Virtual Laboratories Using Simulink: A Pilot Study

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1703.1 - 26.1703.12



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Paper Authors


Mark David Bedillion South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Bedillion received his B.S. degree in 1998, his M.S. degree in 2001, and his Ph.D. degree in 2005, all from the Mechanical Engineering department of Carnegie Mellon University. After a seven-year career in the hard disk drive industry, Dr. Bedillion joined the faculty of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Spring 2011. Dr. Bedillion's research interests include distributed manipulation, control applications in data storage, control applications in manufacturing, and STEM education.

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Mohamed Hakeem Mohamed Nizar South Dakota School of Mines & Technology: Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Mohamed Nizar is an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. He is originally from Sri Lanka and is here as a transfer student to complete his degree. His goals are to work in the design, manufacturing, or maintenance field. He has recently been working on SolidWorks motion analysis, and designing virtual models of dynamic systems using VRML and Simulink.

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Virtual Laboratories Using Simulink: A Pilot StudyThe use of interactivity via laboratory exercises in engineering education, and in particulardynamic systems and control, has historical precedence for both increasing studentunderstanding and maintaining student engagement. While many traditional bench top systemshave been employed in the past (and are typically a preferred choice), such systems require largeamounts of space and a multitude of equipment, both of which are a difficult hurdle for manyinstitutions worldwide to overcome. As a result, many institutions have taken to remotelaboratories or web-based learning for reinforcing techniques learned in the classroom. Whileremote labs contain a physical piece of hardware located remotely, web-based learning is anonline tool used for increasing student understanding, i.e., it is strictly software-based. The workin this paper is motivated by one specific type of web-based learning tool referred to as thevirtual laboratory. While virtualization itself is not a new concept (i.e., the use of virtual labinstruments such as multimeters and oscilloscopes are widespread in engineering curricula) thecreation of entire virtual modules is a relatively new concept with little to no assessment onincreased learning potential and broadening of understanding.This paper describes the authors’ development and implementation of virtual laboratories usingSimulink 3D Animation. In this pilot study, virtual laboratories were developed based on twocommercially available bench top laboratories: ECP-505 and ECP-210, which are a novelinverted pendulum design and a series mass-spring-damper system, respectively. The ECP-210virtual laboratory was implemented in a junior level dynamic systems course in Spring 2014 thatdid not include a hardware laboratory component. Both system identification and PID controlvirtual laboratories were completed; students’ response to the laboratories was overwhelminglypositive, with 29% of students wanting an expansion of the virtual lab component and only 5%wanting to remove the component entirely. Descriptions of laboratory exercises and results arepresented along with directions for future research, including improved assessment approachesand ideas for additional laboratory exercises.

Bedillion, M. D., & Mohamed Nizar, M. H. (2015, June), Virtual Laboratories Using Simulink: A Pilot Study Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25039

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